Posts Categorized: Human Rights

The Story of the People of Kepapilavu

by ‘The Sunday Times,’ Colombo, January 6, 2013 The life and times of the people of Kepapilavu should make for a study in endless suffering. After witnessing the war at its cruellest, experiencing multiple displacements and spending the longest interval of time confined in Menik Farm, one would expect that life can hardly get any… Read more »

Resettled

Many of those displaced during the war are now gradually being resettled at their original residences by the Vanni  security forces headquarters. Residents are pictured acclimatizing themselves to their old abodes and environment after a lapse of several years. Pix by Romesh Madushanka

Do Less Harm

Nonetheless, in modern warfare, the need to protect civilians is in constant tension with the desire to destroy the enemy. Getting that balance right has been a rocky process, with one mistake after another jolting U.S. policymakers into improving the way the military deals with civilian harm…

If American leaders abandon the war-fighting model they ultimately adopted in Afghanistan and Iraq, they may find it harder to counter a more brutal and cynical narrative about the best way to win a war — one that treats civilians as irrelevant.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan military cornered an estimated 5,000 or more Tamil Tiger insurgents on a narrow strip of land, alongside hundreds of thousands of uprooted civilians. By shelling the area indiscriminately and summarily executing the group’s escaping leaders, the government wiped out the insurgents — and killed tens of thousands of civilians in the process. Just like Russia’s brutal war in Chechnya during the first decade of this century, Sri Lanka’s campaign proved that if a government is willing to expel aid groups and journalists and employ indiscriminate force, it can defeat insurgents.

To make matters worse, Sri Lanka has been actively promoting its model abroad: since 1999, its leaders have been traveling to other countries facing domestic insurgencies, including Myanmar (also called Burma), Pakistan, and the Philippines, to share the lessons of their victory. They have staged annual defense seminars attended by military officers from across the world. Sri Lanka’s lethal counterinsurgency strategy requires having a strong stomach for civilian bloodshed and turning a blind eye to international criticism. But there are countries willing to go this route, because it can work. As one of the world’s leading exporters of military ethos, aid, and training, the United States can and should provide a counterweight.

Tamils: The Quest for Human Dignity

  Tamils of Sri Lanka: The Quest for Human Dignity [PDF]   “The crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil minority – against its physical security, citizenship rights, and political representation – are of growing gravity for the international community. Other countries across the world which have had to shelter the thousands… Read more »

The International Crime of Genocide

The International Crime of Genocide: The Case of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka by Lutz Oette, Tamil Information Centre, London, March 1998 Dr. Lutz Oette is today Counsel at REDRESS, a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice, www.redress.org and Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)… Read more »

Go After the Terrorists!

Eventually, the guerrillas sued for a ceasefire that was turned down, after which they were completely wiped out. This is how living nations deal with armed insurgencies on their soil.

In sharp contrast, the insurgents in Pakistan have been treated with kid gloves during the last decades. Since they professed to be religious, they’ve acquired many admirers and supporters. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why a national consensus on defeating the militants could not emerge.

No Husband, No Home and No Future for Their Children

Women-headed families: no husband, no home and no future for their children In the Eastern Province, some women head their household all alone without a job, sometimes without a home, or without doors and sanitary facilities, unable to send their children to school. Their husbands died in war or disappeared into the hands of police…. Read more »

Briefing: Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problem

While moderate lawmakers from both ethnic groups express willingness to reconcile, they are far outnumbered by hardliners, who enjoy strong support outside of cities, especially the rural south, which is the president’s home area. Criticism of the ruling party’s human rights record and lack of progress on ethnic reconciliation has been limited to educated urbanites in Colombo, a scant percentage of the country.

Sri Lanka’s Genocidal War -’95 to ’01

“…Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them …. This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children…” Jean Paul Sartre’s Statement ‘On Genocide’

The Disappearance of an Academic

Six years after, for many, it’s a forgotten matter shrouded in the past. But for his family, the pain endures. The following article was written one month after he was abducted.

Amnesty’s appeal follows.

One Hundred Thousand Tamils Missing After Sri Lanka War

The leaked World Bank spreadsheets broken down by village for the north of the island estimate numbers of returnees to the former conflict area in mid 2010. The Bank also cites Statistical Handbook Numbers for population in 2007 – before the fighting intensified. The two sets of data reveal 101,748 people missing from Mullaitivu District – the area that bore the brunt of the final fighting…

Nearly four years on there is no agreed death toll, even to the nearest ten thousand lives. That’s why an international investigation is required to establish the truth about what may be one of the least reported but worst atrocities of recent decades – both in terms of the speed and the scale of the killing.

Pressing the Case for Reconciliation

The United States will invariably look to strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka. Strategically speaking, it would be unwise for Washington to further antagonize Colombo and lose an ally in a region where it intends to maintain a significant presence in the coming decades. Sri Lanka is not a top tier foreign policy priority for the United States, but the Obama administration will be reluctant to cede all influence there–especially as China’s foreign policy agenda continues to expand…

With Obama currently looking at major shifts within his foreign policy and national security team, few decisions about Sri Lanka are likely to be made until 2013.

Court Convicts a Bosnian Serb General of Genocide

He and some of the four witnesses he called in his defense variously argued that the Serbian forces near the United Nations enclaves were there to fight “terrorists” who were using the zones as bases from which to attack Serbs. Some said only several hundred people were killed during the operations, rather than the more than 7,000 whose bodies have been identified. Muslims in the area were not persecuted, the defense argued, but left voluntarily.

AI: Urgent Action re Student Arrest

The arrests came after several days of student protests following efforts by the security forces to suppress peaceful commemorations of Maaveerar Naal (Heroes Day), a day of remembrance established by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)…

20 Incidents Against “Uthayan” Newspaper

 20 violence incidents in 28 years only against “Udayan” newspaper. Pointed out in parliament yesterday. Continuous methods of repression are unleashed against the “Udayan” newspaper and 20 violence incidents have been unleashed was pointed out by Tamil National Alliance parliament member P.Ariyanenthiran yesterday in parliament. During the group discussion regarding the authorized ministries to the… Read more »

Statement Condemning Student Arrest

Statement Condemning the Arrest and Unlawful Detention of Four Students from the University of Jaffna and Calling for their Immediate Release 6th December, 2012   We the undersigned, strongly condemn the arrest of four students of the University of Jaffna (UoJ) by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) on Thursday, November 29, 2012. While welcoming the… Read more »

AI: Students at Risk of Torture Following March

Four students were arrested on 1 December in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the police. They are being held in Vavuniya for interrogation and are at risk of torture…
The following day students responded with a silent protest and short march and held placards denouncing the restrictions on freedom of expression. At least 20 undergraduates were injured and beaten by riot police and officers in civilian dress, including Sanmugam Solaman. Security forces allege that the students had thrown stones at them, prompting them to react; university staff told local media that the event was peaceful until the authorities attacked the marchers.

Response to the ICG Report on Tamil Politics

The ICG Report on Tamil Politics and the Quest for a Political Solution: The Blind Spot The recently released report “Sri Lanka: Tamil Politics and the Quest for a Political Solution” by the International Crisis Group [ICG] is a timely contribution to the international community’s understanding of current Tamil politics, and reiterates a number of… Read more »

Sen. Rhiannon Maveerar Day Adjournment Speech

I congratulate all those who are working to ensure that there will be a war crimes investigation. As 27 November dawns around the world, I acknowledge the grief and courage of Tamils who gather together to remember and reflect on the enormity of the lives lost.

I repeat the call that crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Sri Lanka must be independently investigated.